How Does a Wood-Burning Stove Work?

Written by april sanders
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How Does a Wood-Burning Stove Work?

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Types of Woodstoves

Woodstoves come in two varieties: Those that are created to slide into a fireplace opening, and those that are meant to be stand-alone stoves. Woodstoves can be further grouped by the wood they burn: Some are meant to burn logs, and others, wood pellets. Fireplace inserts are metal woodstoves that are made to slide into the fireplace. The fireplace's chimney works as the woodstove's exhaust. They are fairly easy to install, but before installing one, make sure the fireplace chimney has been cleaned and inspected for any damage or animal nests. Stand-alone woodstoves are built in the same way as fireplace inserts. They are made of different thicknesses of metal, or in some cases, cast iron. Cast iron stoves are the most expensive kind. To install a stand-alone wood-burning stove, you also need to install a chimney, which is best performed by a professional. Pellet-burning stoves burn pieces of pulped wood and other materials that have been shaped into pellets. They are often partially made from recycled waste. They burn at the same temperature and speed as solid wood, although some people feel that wood pellets do not create as lovely a flame or scent as real wood logs. Some pellet woodstoves have a timer that can be set to automatically add more pellets. Others have a sensor that determines when more pellets are needed.

Woodstoves and Air Quality

Most local towns and counties have air quality regulations regarding outdoor burning. In many instances, this also applies to burning wood in woodstoves. Make sure a woodstove will burn within local air quality regulations before buying it. Usually, more expensive woodstoves burn more efficiently, thereby producing less air pollution. In fact, many communities are only allowing EPA-approved stoves to be installed in new construction. These stoves are more efficient because they burn the wood more completely and cleanly than previous woodstoves. If you want to be absolutely sure your stove meets all safety and air quality requirements, ask a local air quality representative to conduct a final inspection before you burn any wood.

How Woodstoves Work

Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces have dampers installed over the chimney's opening. These dampers let hot air and smoke escape into the chimney when open. Because hot air naturally rises, dampers should always be opened when a fire is burning, and closed when the fire is out. If they are left open when the fire is out, warm air from the house can escape up the chimney, wasting energy. Wood-burning stoves also come with glass or metal doors, and sometimes with heat shields. These are placed at the front of the stove, and control how much radiant heat, or warm air, enters the room. Doors can be left open to allow more heat to enter the house, but the damper should remain open as well, or smoke will enter the house. If the room becomes too warm, closing the doors will allow the area too cool down, as the heat will be forced to rise up and out the chimney. Some wood-burning stoves are built with heat circulation fans and ducts. The fans pull air from the room, warm it up and send it back out into the house. Other woodstoves have simple fans that help increase the fire productivity.

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